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The Health Benefits of Holiday Giving

December 4, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Today's blog is written by Julie Adams, Policy Analyst at the BC Ministry of Health.

Julie focuses on mental health promotion and works to improve the mental health of all British Columbians; including those that are currently living with a mental illness and those who are currently not.

Thanks for being our Guest Blogger Julie!

The holiday season is here. With it comes shopping, eating, visiting, decorating and the stress of trying to get it all done. It might be surprising to learn that adding one more thing to your to do list might actually help you to counter some of that stress. You may want to include the act of giving back to your community.

Research shows that giving to others can increase feelings of happiness, gratitude, promote cooperation and social connection, improve your physical health and can even result in a longer life! Giving to others can also create a ripple effect. One act of giving can spread from one person to the next and so on.

If you would like to enjoy some of the health benefits of giving, read on:

  • Cash donations: A little green in the right hands can go a long way to support those in need.
  • Toy drives: Santa's Anonymous type campaigns allow you to provide a gift for a child or teen whose family may not have the financial resources to do so.
  • Family hampers: Connect with a local charitable organization (or try calling local schools) and work together with your social network (co-workers, family, friends, neighbours, etc) to pull together things needed for a holiday meal and a few gifts for the family members, including the adults.
  • Donate gently used clothing and household items: Warm jackets, sweaters, mitts, gloves hats and socks are in high demand at this time of year. Make sure they're in good condition.
  • The gift of time: Volunteer to serve meals at a soup kitchen, help decorate a seniors care home, deliver toys or hampers (see above), or offer to shovel your neighbour's driveway and walkways.

Whatever you do, make sure it's something you can actually handle given your schedule and budget. If we all take a small piece of the pie, together we can ensure that all members of our community have a happy holiday season. Hope, kindness and generosity are gifts that are always in style.

 Photo credit: iStockphoto

Related Blogs:
How to Beat Holiday Stress
Reasonable New Year’s Resolutions

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